Miller tops Portuguese MotoGP practice

PORTIMAO, Portugal: Australia’s Jack Miller topped the timesheets after Saturday’s third Portuguese MotoGP practice with world champion Joan Mir struggling to make an impression in the Algarve.
Mir’s hopes of celebrating his title in the season-closer with victory look slim, as he must first negotiate Q1 to progress to Q2 to have a shot at figuring in the first four rows of Sunday’s grid.
While Mir may have wrapped up the title last week in Valencia there is a six-way battle for second place between Franco Morbidelli, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo, Andrea Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro.
Mir’s Suzuki team are hoping to seal the constructors’ title too but face opposition from Ducati and Yamaha.
On Friday, France’s Johann Zarco claimed the fastest time in practice.
Zarco on the Avintia Ducati was pushed hard by Spaniard Maverick Vinales at Portimao but was just slightly quicker with a time of 1min 39.417sec.
Vinales will happy with an encouraging showing though as he looks to win a six-way battle for second place in the standings, after his compatriot Joan Mir secured the World Championship last weekend in Valencia.
Mir posted the sixth fastest practice time as the Suzuki rider looks to add a final flourish to his maiden title, which made him the first new MotoGP champion since Marc Marquez in 2013.
But second place remains up for grabs this weekend while a new race winner would make it 10 for the season, beating the all-time record.
Aleix Espargaro is among those hoping to claim that honour and he completed the top three in practice, ahead of Fabio Quartararo and KTM’s Brad Binder, in fourth and fifth respectively.
Andrea Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro, who are also in contention for the runner-up spot, came after Mir, with Australian Jack Miller and Franco Morbidelli taking the last Q2 spots in ninth and tenth.
Miguel Oliveira made the most of home comforts to clock the fastest time in the morning session but faded in the afternoon and ended up sitting 13th.
Nine-time champion Valentino Rossi, who is making his last appearance for Yamaha’s factory team before leaving for the satellite Petronas team in 2021, suffered a fall and finished 21st. — AFP